I have mixed feelings about this--I am SO happy for all their success, but it feels like a secret (MY secret) has been passed all around town. Indeed, the crowd at their show last night at The Wiltern was packed and enthusiastic, and rightfully so: what followed was an incredible two and half hours of music and surprises.
The show opened sparsely--Glen and Mar took the stage and casually plumped down onto the floor for first their first song Fallen From the Sky, Mar's Casio in hand to lay down the beat and Glen clutching his worn-down, faithful Takamine that he's been playing for twenty years. They stood and immediately went into Lies, the gorgeous ballad from Once, where Glen watched video of his lost love. Their voices blend so well together.
The Frames then took the stage to back them for the majority of the show--Colm Mac Iomaire on violin, Joe Doyle on bass, Rob Bochnik on guitar, and Johnny Boyle on drums. They launched into Low Rising, a song very reminiscent of Van Morrison, a big influence on the band. The big tempo charmer set the tone for the casual pace for the evening. Next was Feeling The Pull, a high-energy sing-a-long from the new album Strict Joy. Glen, a natural storyteller, set-up the next song, The Rain (my personal favorite on the new album), as kind of a tribute to his band, whom he's been with since 1990 but missed out on the whirlwind success of his indie movie. Thankfully, he's been able to combine his two projects into one, and the evening was a testament to the power of their melded sound.
After the somber The Moon, Mar took center stage for If You Want Me and Fantasy Man, her sweet voice a perfect compliment to the nice arrangements. Mar and the band then took a break as Glen grabbed his guitar and went into busking mode for Leave and the always powerful Say It To Me Now. He introduced the latter with a story about an old woman he met in Chicago. He complimented her jacket and helped her to her cab, and she was so touched that he noticed it--she has become a shut in for two years after her son's death in 9/11, and that jacket was the first thing she bought when she decided to go back out into the world. He then pounded into a cover of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, nearly destroying two guitars in the process, one of which was "it's first time on stage, ever." The response to the show-stopper was deafening.
The band once again took the stage for a handful of songs--Once and Backbroke among them, before ended the first part of their set with the driving When Your Mind's Made Up. The nearly hour-long encore began with Colm's solo violin of an old Irish folksong, then Mar and a guest from the Czech Republic sang a song honoring the Velvet Revolution. Glen then joined her for Falling Slowly, the Oscar winning ballad largely responsible for their fast rise. As expected, it was lovely and much appreciated by the rabid crowd. A new, untitled yet excellent song came next, with the crowd joining in and harmonizing on the simple chorus of "There." High Horses stormed out next, followed by the most random, unexpected moment of the night. Glen regaled us with a story of how he and Mar were having tea at an LA hotel when the waiter came over and told them that two gentlemen wanted to buy them a bottle of wine. "You should take it, they are famous," he told them, and it turns out it was Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. They all hung out and partied for the rest of the night. Glen introduced Jason, who then played an original song about using his celebrity status to sleep with a Swell Season fan. The band backed him up, Mar holding up a sign with his phone number on it. Courtesy of YouTube, here it is:
"Where do you go after that?" Glen asked, the crowd still in a tizzy. He ended the night with an old Frames classic, Red Chord, which he coda'd with a line from a Clancy Brothers classic-- "Good night and joy be with you all."
A good night it was, indeed.